Terre Haute (Ecce Homo) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Terre HauteTerre Haute is a city in Indiana. The city is home to a Federal Penitentiary with a “Special Confinement Unit for inmates serving Federal death sentences”. Terre Haute is also a play written by America’s preeminent gay writer, Edmund White.  Lower Ossington Theatre is currently home to the play as part of SummerWorks.

Timothy McVeigh was a US soldier who served in the first war in Iraq. The full extent of his insanity before enlisting isn’t clear. After returning home, he eventually rented a truck and used fertilizer and racing fuel to turn the truck into a rolling bomb.  On April 19, 1995, McVeigh detonated the bomb outside of a building in Oklahoma City. He killed 168 people, including 19 children, and wounded 450 others. He pushed insanity to its full extent.

While in prison in Terre Haute, McVeigh began corresponding with one of America’s finest and most prolific writers, Gore Vidal. The full extent of Vidal’s brilliance is still to be determined.

Terre Haute is based on that correspondence and supposes Vidal meeting McVeigh in prison. The meetings begin five days before McVeigh is to be executed.

Vidal/James is played by Terrence Bryant. McVeigh/Harrison is played by Todd Michael Sandomirsky. Both actors are extremely talented. I overheard a couple of whispers of “wow” from the audience during the play.

Their initial encounter in Terre Haute is really a “first date”. James addresses the audience and says he is using “interviewing techniques” as research for his articles about the madman. The old man is really just seducing a young lunatic.

Their relationship is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. In the hands of Bryant and Sanomirsky, Terre Haute is like being a guard watching Clarice Starling having a discussion with Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. They entice us, putting us in a trance, until a recurring sound awakens us from the nightmare/dream.

The play includes a lot of recent history and crazy conspiracy theories. In the hands of a less talented team, Terre Haute could easily devolve into crackpot madness. In the hands of White, Bryant, Sanomirsky and director Allistair Newton, the Canadian premiere of Terre Haute is a psychological drama not to be missed.


  • Terre Haute plays at Venue F: Lower Ossington Theatre  (100A  Ossington Avenue)
  • Showtimes: Thurs. August 9, 7:30 PM; ; Sat. August 11, 5:00 PM; Sun. August 12, 7:30 PM; Wed. August 15, 5:00 PM; Fri. August 17, 10:00 PM; Sat. August 18, 12:00 PM
  • All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at http://ticketwise.ca, By phone by calling the Lower Ossington Box Office at 416-915-6747, in person at the Lower Ossington Box Office (located at 100A Ossington Avenue) Mon. – Sun. 12PM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
  • Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows